Charities wanting to use media content will need to get to grips with media licensing to ensure they comply with copyright law
Charity marketers and communicators work tirelessly to ensure their organisation achieves great publicity and promotion. This helps ensure they can attract new supporters and donors and build up a charity’s profile in the long term.
But media content’s copyright is owned by the publisher or journalist involved. This means that permission will be needed to use it. This presents a challenge to charities looking to monitor their coverage, collect press clippings and share their good publicity.
This is where media licensing steps in to allow organisations to use and reproduce media coverage, both in hard copy and digitally.
Here we examine what licensing is and when charities are likely to use it. We will also look at how the most common form of licensing, through Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) and Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA).
We will consider the steps charities should take to obtain such licences, as well as the useful resources and tools available to help charities comply with the licensing system.
In order to reproduce and copy articles and coverage charities will need to pay a licence fee. The two bodies that provide such licences are the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) and the Copyright Licensing Agency.
The NLA is the key body that protects copyright among the newspaper industry. It regulates media monitoring activities to ensure that copyright is protected and to charge for licences if needed. It is not a government body but a private company that is jointly owned by the major newspaper groups.
The NLA annually hands out licensing fee money collected to newspapers relating to their copyright. This is for hard copy and newspapers’ online media. The extension of licences to cover online copy was made in 2010. The NLA currently licenses more than 200,000 organisations.
Meanwhile the CLA focuses on the copying of content from magazines and trade journals, through the Licensing and Collecting Society and the Publishers Licensing Society. The represents the licensing of content published in both the UK and abroad.
Depending on the breadth of media monitoring work, licences from only one of the NLA or CLA may be needed. For example, if content only appears in newspapers or their online sites, then NLA licensing will be needed. If a charity mainly gains coverage in magazines and specialist trade publications then perhaps only CLA licensing applies.
The sorts of activities charities will need licences for include photocopying articles, even for sharing among colleagues and for storing digital copies and sharing.
Emailing scanned content is another activity that requires a licence. The receiving of content from a licensed content or media monitoring agency is also covered. The extent to what a charity can do with media content depends on the licensing involved and discussions with the NLA or CLA.
Sharing links with fellow charity workers is a grey area. The NLA advising a licence is needed. However, this is largely based on protecting the media outlet in case colleagues then pass on content to others.
Any copying or reproduction of links to content received through Google Alerts will require a licence, but is not needed if the link is only opened.
Sharing links to media articles on charity’s websites does not require a licence as long as the article is not reproduced or quoted from. The link and title is fine.
When obtaining a license the costs will depend on the size of the charity. The more media monitored then the higher the licence fees.
Earlier this year the NLA introduced a Simplified Licence. This allows organisations to make and receive web, digital and paper copies from all newspaper, magazine and website titles. It has also simplified the process around copying limits and user numbers.
The NLA also has charity licensing options for registered charities. Charities with a headcount of five or fewer or turnover of less than £250,000 can gain a free licence for all occasional copying.
There are discounts for other charities too. Bigger charities can receive a discount of £204 on the NLA’s Business Licence. Further discounted prices for licensing are also available.
The CLA licensing options for charities include its Business Licence and Business Multinational Licence. A CLA Business Licence Plus package is also available ,which includes a pre-agreed amount of unencrypted, copyright fee-paid articles from the British Library document supply service.
The onus is on charities to inform the NLA and CLA regarding their media monitoring activity and how they are looking to reproduce content. It is a system that relies on trust. If a media monitoring agency is used, they may inform the NLA or CLA of any monitoring use by the charity.
Working with the NLA and CLA, rather than ignoring them, is advised. For example, the NLA offers a charity licence with discounts. While the CLA does not have a charity specific discount, charities are among organisations with low rates that it gives licences to.
Another reason to liaise with the licensing agencies is that they can follow up reported breaches of copyright and charge for any costs incurred. This can be backdated over a number of years and be costly for a charity.